Sunday, August 23, 2009

If you Die, You're Dead -- That's All.

We lived in a little two-room house. Had a wood stove that we cooked blackeye peas on. We ate so many blackeye peas that I never wanted to see another one. We even slept on ’em, laid our pallets on the pods of blackeye peas and hay. Your kids would cry for something to eat and you couldn’t get it. I just prayed and prayed and prayed all the time that God would take care of us and not let my children starve. All our people left here. They live in California. But we were so poor that we couldn’t have went to California or nowhere else.

We made good money pullin’ bolls [cotton], when we could pull. But we’ve had no work since March. When we miss, we set and eat just the same. The worst thing we did was when we sold the car, but we had to sell it to eat, and now we can’t get away from here. We’d like to starve if it hadn’t been for what my sister in Enid sent me. When it snowed last April we had to burn beans to keep warm. You can’t get no relief here until you’ve lived here a year

This county's a hard county. They won't help bury you here. If you die, you're dead that's all.

Quotes by and Photographs of Nettie Featherston

Images by Dorothea Lange

Monday, August 17, 2009

Shadow Writing
Damaged Writing

Henry Fox Talbot, Sciagraph, 1836

Cristian Schad, Schadograph, 1920

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kodak Ghost Poems

Nathan Lewis, We are Building Ghost Towns, and I will Plant Birds, 2009

It is my belief that Photography and Spiritualism are deeply related. One medium intends to the revive the dead, whereas the other attempts to stop one from ever dying.
With either definition the fact remains that they both desire to arrest the evanescent reflections of the mind and tangible world, in hopes to prove one with the other.

Photography can "convince the unprejudiced inquirer or the rational and sincere believer, that is is impossible that his faith be false" - George Stein Keith, 1844

An interesting, if not anecdotal, fact is that George Eastman grew up in Rochester, NY where in 1880 he entered the Photography business and eventually created the Kodak camera.
As a boy he must have been aware of some of the most famous National celebrities living in his hometown, Kate and Margaret Fox.
The Fox sisters ushered in the phenomena of American Spiritualism. In 1848 the young girls heard unearthly raps communicating with them through their walls. From then on they were catapulted into a life of Spirit Communication on a national level. These sisters are probably the most influential figures in terms of American Spiritualism, and it goes without saying that Eastman holds the same title in American Photography.

There is no telling if Eastman ever met the Fox sisters, but it is not hard to imagine he was aware of them. Their performances and stories often made the Newspapers. That being said, it is impossible to say if the Foxs had a personal influence on Eastman, but shortly after his family's relocation to Rochester, his father passed away. It potentially could have been this loss that sent him in pursuit of a way to fix memory and deny death.

My point alone is at least interesting to note the physical and ideological proximity between these two mediums.

It is also fascinating that in 1826 the first theatrical performance in the city of Rochester was:

Thalw - Death alone can make me comply with such a demand.
Bar - No,no; There's to be no death: a temporary removal is all that will be required.
Thalw - Very well, but as for me, baron, I do not stir.
Blum - I'm fixed as her guardian angel.
Bar - Then matters remain as they were.
Thalw - What do you call removal?
Blum - The term is extremely vague
Bar - That question you may settle between yourselves.

Nathan Lewis, Untitled, 2007

Monday, August 10, 2009

Photography is a fad well-nigh on its last legs, thanks principally to the bicycle craze. Those seriously interested in its advancement do not look upon this state of affairs as a misfortune, but as a disguised blessing, insomuch as photography had been classed as a sport by nearly all of those who deserted its ranks and fled to the present idol, the bicycle!
- Alfred Stieglitz, The Handheld Camera - Its Present Importance, 1897

Photographer Unknown

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some sitters reported that they felt drawn to the camera's eye, or unnerved by the experience of being photographed, as if they were being scrutinized, or compelled to act like a marionette... as though they are in, what was termed, a "Magnetic Sleep."

Nathan Lewis, The Medium, 2007

[Photographic] portraits have special powers, extending human sight into insight and revealing what ordinary vision cannot bring into focus...

Nathan Lewis, Basement Window, 2007

Belief in the extraordinary power of photography...was mixed with wariness...
- Mary Warner Marien, 2006

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mesmeric Revelations

Adam Fuss, My Ghost, 1999

A Doctor speaking to a Patient under hypnosis (mesmerized), 1844

Dr. P: Are you asleep ?

Vankirk (patient): Yes - No I would rather sleep more soundly.

P: Do you sleep now ?

V: I must die.

P: Does the idea of death afflict you ?

V: No - no !

P: Are you pleased with the prospect ?

V: If I were awake I should like to die, but now it is no matter. The mesmeric condition is so near death as to content me.

P: I wish you would explain yourself, Mr. Vankirk.

V: You must begin at the beginning.

P: The beginning ! but where is the beginning ?

V: You know that the beginning is GOD.

P: What then is God ?

V: I cannot tell.

P: Is not God spirit ?

V: While I was awake I knew what you meant by "spirit," but now it seems only a word - such for instance as truth, beauty - a quality, I mean.

P: Is not God immaterial ?

V: There is no immateriality - it is a mere word. That which is not matter, is not at all - unless qualities are things.

P: Is God, then, material ?

V: No.


P: I do not comprehend. You say that man will never put off the body ?

V: I say that he will never be bodiless.

P: Explain.

V: There are two bodies - the rudimental and the complete ; corresponding with the two conditions of the worm and the butterfly. What we call "death," is but the painful metamorphosis. Our present incarnation is progressive, preparatory, temporary. Our future is perfected, ultimate, immortal. The ultimate life is the full design.

P: But of the worm's metamorphosis we are palpably cognizant.

V: We , certainly - but not the worm


As the sleep-waker pronounced these latter words, in a feeble tone, I observed on his countenance a singular expression, which somewhat alarmed me, and induced me to awake him at once. No sooner had I done this than, with a bright smile irradiating all his features, he fell back upon his pillow and expired. I noticed that in less than a minute afterward his corpse had all the stern rigidity of stone. His brow was of the coldness of ice. Thus, ordinarily, should it have appeared, only after long pressure from Azrael's hand. Had the sleep-waker, indeed, during the latter portion of his discourse, been addressing me from out the regions of the shadows?


Hippolyte Bayard, Self Portrait as a Drowned Man, 1840

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do we need our Eyes to See?

So preparing for class today it got me thinking a lot about light and the many ways we interpret, encounter, and possibly misunderstand it.

Light is a type of energy called "ElectroMagnetic Radiation."
Electromagnetic Radiation travels through space in packets/bundles called “photons.”
A “photon” is pure energy and has no physical mass, though they do have a fluctuating electromagnetic field.

This fluctuation is the basis of Color interpretation.

As you can see the frequency of the fluctuation moves from zero to its maximum position then to zero, then to its minimum and back up to zero. In perfect Parabolic form.
Human eyes "see" these wavelengths and associate them with colors.

An easy way to think about it is, imagine the color Red has less energy than blue, so its wavelengths will be shallower and shorter, while Blue Travels in a much more extreme arc. These differences in Energy are also known as their "Kelvin Temperature."

Consider the Visual Spectrum of light, it's based on the different Photon Frequencies and/or Kelvin Temperatures.

(Remember ROYGBIV?)

So all this information is nothing new, it's taught to grade school students. But notice what photon frequencies are above and beyond our visual spectrum.

Most notably below... FM/AM Radio.
I must ask you the question then, do you need your Eyes to listen to the Radio?

So if we agree that Visual Color travels more or less in the same vehicle as Radar or Radio, what does that mean?

Do we need our Eyes to See?

Think about Marine animals, bats, and the like who use sound waves to navigate their worlds.

So mechanically we know that you input a lot of information via the Rods and Cones in your retina...but is that potentially only a part of it?

Maybe that vibration, the fluctuation of photons is not only for the interpretation of sight but also spacial relationships.

You see because your Retina are not the only part of your body that reacts to Electromagnetic Frequencies. The Frontal Lobes of your brain are huge receptors for this type of energy.

So much so, that there were many tests showing that by bombarding those lobes with different EM frequencies (don't forget: same thing as color) a person could lose all physical relationships with the world, hallucinate, and in general become spatially and rationally disoriented.

The most famous of these tests was performed by Dr. Persinger and Dr. Koren with their God Helmet. The apparatus was so named because it seemingly gave participants Religious, Supernatural, or Extraterrestrial sensations.

Proving that there is AT LEAST a correlation between photon frequency and Interpretation.

These theories are 100% backed up by victims/participants of Paranormal occurrences which very often happen in areas of High Electromagnetic activity, whether it be Natural or Man made.
But that's another post for another time!

Back to the question at hand though...Do you need your Eyes to see?

I'll leave you only with a story out of Shropshire, England, and a man named "Dummy Mason."

Dummy was a patient in a psychiatric hospital, being "blind, deaf, and dumb." He was eventually put to work in the laundry department, when a doctor noticed something impossible: Dummy was folding all the towels and laundry in perfect Color coordination. The curious doctor tried to trick Mason and rearranged his order, only to find that he would simply put them back in the correct piles.
The doctor speculated that maybe he could "feel colors with his hands"...but as we've discussed I think it's more possible that Mason could "feel colors" with his brain.

Dummy Mason exhibited another talent shared by many visually impaired folks, the ability to navigate their environment with almost perfect accuracy. This ability has long thought to be a combination of a walking cane, developed sonar, and repetition.

Maybe it's time we explore other options. Maybe they are able to feel the vibrations of the world around them, using their brains.
Everything gives off an EMF, from Humans, Brick walls, cats, and trees...we just choose to give it a much more Poetic name... The Aura.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The shutting out of surrounding objects, and the concentration of the whole attention…produces a dreamlike exaltation of the faculties, a kind of clairvoyance, in which we seem to leave the body behind us and sail into one strange scene after another, like disembodied spirits.

- Oliver Wendell Holmes about stereo Photography, 1859

John Stezaker, Love IX , 2006

...more like some marvel of a fairy tale or delusion of necromancy than a practical reality.

- Unknown Commentator on Photography, 1839

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Working personal images as part of the "Conversations in the Dark" series. Taken in a former Masonic lodge, but now a private business.

New personal works in progress